At the weekend the Sun had some YouGov polling for the conference, that I said I’d come back to once the tables appeared. Most of the questions were repeats from the same Sun pre-conference polling a year ago, and show some interesting changes in attitudes towards the party. It’s not necessarily good or bad for the party… just that the challenges they face are changing.

The changes from last September are predictable, given how the Lib Dem poll ratings have continued to decline since then – Clegg’s approval rating is now at minus 29 compared to plus 8 a year ago, the proportion of people who support the coalition agreement is down to 34% from 43% a year ago. Asked to pick from a list of positive contributions the Liberal Democrats have made to the government, 40% say nothing at all, compared to 34% a year ago.

The more subtle and interesting movements come in the list of statements about the Lib Dems that were repeated from January. YouGov asked if people agreed with various statements about the Lib Dems, 5 broadly positive for them, 5 broadly negative.

Two of the statements sought to measure perceptions that the Lib Dems had broken people’s trust or betrayed their supporters – agreement with both of these fell. The statement that people “could never trust the Liberal Democrats, even if they left the coalition” had net agreement of +13, down from +25 in January. Net agreement with the statement that the Lib Dems have “broken their promises and betrayed their supporters” was down to +32 from +43. There was smaller movement on the statement that the Lib Dems had sold out their principles, or were propping up an extreme government, but nevertheless, it suggests some of the public are starting to view the party through less of a prism of betrayal, some of the hostility is starting to fade.

Less good news is on how distinctive they are. “I’m no longer sure what the Liberal Democrats stand for” was the most agreed with statement (63% agreed), and its net agreement was up from +29 in January to +41 now. Tempering that slightly, 30% agreed with the statement that the Lib Dems offered “different and distinctive policies from the other two parties”, up from 25% in January.

Looking at agreement with the more positive statements, 26% of people agreed that by entering coalition the Lib Dems had managed to get “real Liberal policies put into action”, 36% agreed that they had made the coalition more moderate and centrist (up from 33% in Janary), 41% agreed they had done the responsible thing by entering government at a time of crisis – the most agreed with positive statement, but marginally down since January.

411 Responses to “Attitudes to the Lib Dems – less anger, but less clarity”

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  1. YouGov/Sun results 21st Sept CON 35%, LAB 41%, LD 9%; APPROVAL -26

  2. Colin

    I was just being silly

  3. RiN


  4. Just seen Clegg’s speech. As Sir Humphrey would have said, “Very brave Deputy Prime Minister”

    I’m struck by what appears to be an immaturity (in the true sense of the word) of political judgement from both Clegg and Osbourne.

    Both have (quite unnecessarily) painted themselves into a corner politically. Both have lumped the pot on a single horse. If ever there was a time when a nuanced approach, leaving escape routes and alternatives might gave been acceptable to the electorate, it’s now, in such novel political and economic times.

    But no. Osbourne’s entirely arbitrary “one term to eliminate the deficit” approach and Clegg’s unleavened support for this approach leave them absolutely no alternative. They either succeed by these extremely demanding (self-set) standards, or they are political failures. Highly, highly immature politicking.

    My two pennorth is that both of them ARE immature politicians who have been starstruck by the idea of leading their country through the dark night to the sunlit uplands. I wonder how much either of them truly understood the extent to which successful politicians (Wilson, Blair, even early-era Maggie) have a chameleon-like nature, giving themselves Alternative routes, playing percentages, waiting for positions of strength and loading the dice before throwing them.

  5. @ BT

    ….playing straight into Labour’s hands who should be struggling to win confidence after the last discredited government. but in fact have been strutting around holding their heads high, and getting away with it!
    We have, haven’t we? The Tories don’t have the balls to take down Balls… so they lose, we win. ‘Twas ever thus when a Tory is faced with a Labour ‘bruiser’. ;-)

  6. YouGov/Sun results 21st Sept CON 35%, LAB 41%, LD 9%; APPROVAL -26

  7. Amber

    Actually if you look back I was talking about the Lib Dems not the Tories (therefore I will decline to comment on your reference to the bruised Balls of the Labour party).

  8. @ Lefty Lampton

    Osbourne thinks he can afford to be ‘immature’. The Tories are not betting the farm on their economic strategy coming good, whatever they say. They have the new boundaries & an election strategy already planned.

    They firmly believe that Andy Coulson will not be in jail come 2014 & they will spend a year attacking Ed Miliband in the way that they attacked Gordon Brown.

    This strategy is already being lined up. Didn’t you see the Populus focus pollling that Lord Ashcroft did? Now, if the Tories thought there was any chance whatsoever that their attack strategy would come unstuck, they would keep the poliing private.

    But they are so sure of themselves that they can’t resist seeing it published now. They think it will be amusing to watch Ed M’s team try to cover the bases per the polling before they whip the rug away with an all out, Coulson style attack on him.

    Well, obviously I believe Labour are up to the challenge & whoever laughs last, laughs longest.

  9. RiN

    “Many of us called an SNP win in 2011. That was the easy bit.

    It was the extent of that win that no one, except Ipsos-MORI suggested at the last moment (and none of us really believed them) actually predicted.”

    I was predicting a couple of gains from Labour. An SNP win but very wrong.

    Shouldn’t we investigate why?

  10. John b Dick

    I think you are confusing me with old Nat, at least you have quotes from his post, but it is an easy mistake to make, we are both senile

    To answer your Q I think folk underestimated how much the Scots wanted to be protected from a Tory London govt and how much they wanted to avoid being a launch pad for attacks on the London govt, obvious fear of reprisal, at least that was my reasoning for predicting an SNP win I think the SNP didn’t dare to hope because the polls on independence were not in their favour and for the same reason labour underestimated the snp

  11. I think there might be a link between the major drop in support of the LDs and the major rise in support for the SNP.

    If the LDs weren’t in the Coalition Govt, would the SNP still have won a majority?

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